Monthly Archives: July 2005

Canadians: Leave Your Toy Guns at Home

Canadian air safety officials are telling passengers to leave their water guns and other toy gun-related items at home, as they appear to be causing delays at airport screening stations.  Canadian screeners found more than 3,000 of these types of items (including, the article notes, toy grenades (?)) in passengers’ luggage since the beginning of the year.  US officials have not weighed in, so feel free to bring your toy grenades to the airport.

United’s Profitable $1.4 Billion Loss

You’ll probably see articles today mentioning United Airlines’ $1.4 billion second quarter loss.  Yes, that’s a boatload of money.  Except that it isn’t.  Virtually all of that is from writeoffs related to their (yet still) ongoing restructuring.  The carrier actually posted a small operating profit.  Really.  And while posting a profit while under bankruptcy is not exactly a reason to break out the champagne, it’s a sign of life and a bit of good news as United looks to exit bankruptcy this fall.

American Airlines’ New All Coach Europe Flight

American Airlines announced new nonstop service from JFK to Newcastle, England, the first time the two cities have been connected. This is good news; more service is always better than less service. But as you keep reading the press release, you may be struck by the sentence that reads, “American will begin serving the route on May 1, 2006, using its 188-seat Boeing 757 aircraft with all-coach seating.”

All coach seating? On a flight to England? Haven’t the big US carriers said that the reason they’re so completely different from low cost carriers is because they offer business class? I understand the economics here, but how will the big guys differentiate themselves if they’re offering EXACTLY THE SAME PRODUCT as low-fare carriers. Of course, sometimes the product is worse than low-fare carriers. This is going to invite low-fare airlines start up and fly all-coach 757s across the Atlantic because the upstarts can offer the same product without the unionized labor. That means low prices. 18 months from now I bet there are 5 airlines flying like that.

AA: Daylight Savings Time Will Hurt Us

You may have read recently about the US extending daylight savings time by a few weeks, which to most of us seems like a good idea (more light = good thing). Airlines, however, complained (understandably) that throwing us off-kilter from the rest of the world would mess up international schedules. Valid enough. However, I still find it kind of amusing that American Airlines’ CEO came out yesterday and complained about daylight savings time. If you think all of the issues plaguing airlines, doesn’t it seem like this would be toward the bottom of the ol’ list? Again, I’m not saying it’s not a valid issue; but when most airlines are losing hundreds of millions of dollars, doesn’t this seem a tad funny?

Or maybe it doesn’t.

AirTran’s New Website

I just wanted to give credit where it’s due: AirTran’s new website is great. You’ll be especially happy with the new fare display page that lets you easily figure out which flights have the lowest fares, and how much more it costs to upgrade to business class or a fully refundable coach ticket. Well done.

Wanna Buy a 707?

Did you ever want to own your own commercial airplane? Well, now you can. Someone is selling a Boeing 707 on eBay for about $200,000 (hurry, there’s only 2 days left in the auction). A couple of minor drawbacks:

–the aircraft had skidded off a runway and lost an engine. You’ll want to fix that.
–the aircraft is currently located in Liberia.

Those are really the only drawbacks. The thing would make an amazing restaurant. Or apartment. The 707 is also mentioned in Gordon Lightfoot’s Early Morning Rain and Steve Miller’s Jet Airliner. Well, not this specific 707, but 707s in general.

United Flight Diverted

A United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to London was diverted to Boston after reports of 3 Pakistani passengers “acting suspciously.” The FBI questioned and released the men. No word on what was suspicious.

Northwest Warns of Bankruptcy

Northwest Airlines warned yesterday that if it does not receive $1.1 billion (!) in labor savings, it will go bankrupt early next year. We’ve seen this before, so I hesitate to even bother writing about it. The amazing thing here is that 18 months ago, analysts (that is, analysts who actually get paid to write about this crap) were saying that Northwest was in the best position to succeed. Guess they were wrong.

Near Collision Averted at JFK

The NY Times has a good article explaining how an ABX Air DC-8 cargo jet came within 50 feet of colliding with an Israir 767 on July 6 at JFK. Reminiscent of one of the worst air disasters in history, the 1977 collision of a Pan Am 747 and a KLM 747, the Israir jet taxied onto an active runway as the cargo jet was taking off. The cargo plane’s pilot acted quickly, and was able to clear the 767 that had encroached on his runway. A miracle, basically.

American’s $3 Email Fee

I think by now we shouldn’t be surprised when we see airlines charging fees for services that used to be free. However, I was still shocked to read that American Airlines will charge you $3 to e-mail you a copy of your itinerary if you lost the original copy. Yes, you read that correctly. $3 to send an email. Keep up the good work.

(Thanks yet again to View from the Wing for the heads up.)